Arva Moore Parks

Historian, Author and Preservationist

November 2018

Few people know more about the history of Coral Gables than Arva Moore Parks. Her book, “George Merrick, Son of the South Wind,” is a must read for anyone interested in the founding of the city. Parks also wrote “Miami, the Magic City,” and has served as chair of the Coral Gables Museum and the city’s Historic Preservation Board. She has produced films on Miami and Coconut Grove, won an Emmy from the Florida Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and been inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. 


Through her friendship with the late Mildred Merrick, a UM librarian and sister-in-law of the city’s founder, Parks got her hands on a trove of never-seen short stories by George Merrick. She is now annotating them for publication.  


“The stories are eyewitness accounts of the things [Merrick] experienced as a boy,” says Parks. “They were written in longhand, and horrible to read. So, I had to get them typed up, and it was almost like translating a foreign language. Merrick was trying to get them published when he died (in 1942). I feel like I owe it to him to see that happen.” Parks moved to the Gables in 1970, and bought a fixer-upper on Granada Boulevard. “Everybody thought I was crazy, because everything north of Coral Way was thought to be declining.” As she restored the 1923 home, Parks was asked to chair the first historic preservation board in South Florida. “The first thing we did was get the city to buy Merrick House, which was about to be torn down. And we saved it. Then we started looking around for other homes that could be preserved. Eventually, property values started to go up.” 

Reported by Mike Clary // Photo by Jonathan Dann